I am an approval junkie. Early on, when I told people the name of the book I was writing, some immediately smiled and said, “Great title.” No questions asked; they got it. A few looked concerned and said, “Really? I wouldn’t have thought that of you.” At which point I put down the cake I was frosting for them while simultaneously breastfeeding my daughter and doing squats and explained that I’m not ashamed about wanting approval. It kept my high school GPA very high. It’s kept my BMI somewhat low. It’s kept me on my toes when I wasn’t already wearing heels to elongate my legs. We all know someone who says, “I got to where I am by not giving a shit.” I believe this can be true of psychopaths and Buddhist nuns. But of everyone else, I’m a little admiring and a lot skeptical. How can you not give even a little tiny shit?
Having said that, I do not have a twelve-step program to alleviate the desire for approbation. However, I can offer you something that’s the exact opposite of a cure.
12 Steps You Might Take to Win Approval
1. Make good grades.
2. Go to church or pay a lot for High Holidays orchestra seats.
3. Refrain from having sex to be “good”/Be good at having sex.
4. Casually, and only semi accurately, reference Schrödinger’s cat in conversation.
5. Run in place in a dark shower for forty-five minutes at 4 a.m. every morning so you won’t gain weight on an African safari.
6. Do things to make your parents proud.
7. Do things to make your therapist proud.
8. Enlist Michael Jackson’s choreographer to plan your first wedding dance and a Broadway veteran to choreograph your first second wedding dance.
9. Say yes (e.g., “Yes, I’ll provide three dozen nut-free kosher cupcakes even though I’m not Jewish!”) when you really should say no.
10. Moderate a small, jovial panel discussion as you spend two hours pushing your baby out, so you don’t make this whole giving birth thing about you you you, even as your child rips a hole in your labia, forever ruining your chances of going into porn at the age of forty-one.
11. Stay in a relationship with someone whom you’re determined to win over.
12. Refrain from ending your sentences in a preposition.
Or, maybe those are just things that I MIGHT do to seek approval. (I am neither confirming nor denying.) What would you do?